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NSPR aims to bring you accurate and comprehensive fire coverage in the North State. Here you will find all of our fire updates and stories.Our staff will not be providing updates on wildfires overnight. You can stay updated on the latest information by tracking and monitoring fires on social media. To ensure you're alerted if there is an emergency in your area, sign up for emergency alerts in your county, and always have an emergency kit ready to go in case of an evacuation.

Interview With Venessa Vidovich: Air Quality May Be Getting Better, But Fire Season Is Far From Over

Kari Greer/U.S. Forest Service

Wildfires have spread loss and misery across much of California this summer. While firefighters and weather conditions are breaking up blankets of smoke from the Carr Fire and Mendocino Complex the peak of fire season is far from over. New devastating conflagrations in coming months are almost a certainty – meaning more bad air quality likely is too.

NSPR's Marc Albert interviewed Venessa Vidovich, supervising public health nurse for the Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency's Communicable Disease Unit about the dangers that lurk in wildfire smoke and how best to avoid them. 

Air Quality Basics

Air quality is measured by something called the “Air Quality Index” or AQI, which is divided into six categories.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, an AQI value of 100 generally corresponds to the national standard for the pollutant being measured. That national standard is what’s been set by the EPA to protect public health.

AQI levels below 100 are usually thought of as being satisfactory and not harmful to health. AQI levels above 100 are usually considered to be unhealthy – at first for certain sensitive groups – then for everyone as AQI levels increase.

Find out about current air quality conditions in your area on this map.

Credit Image used courtesy of the Environmental Protection Agency

When the AQI is in this range ... air quality conditions are ... 

  • 0 to 50 = “Good.” Air quality is considered satisfactory, and air pollution poses little or no risk.
  • 51 to 100 = “Moderate.” Air quality is acceptable; however, for some pollutants there may be a moderate health concern for a very small number of people. For example, people who are unusually sensitive to ozone may experience respiratory symptoms.
  • 101 to 150 = "Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups.” Although general public is not likely to be affected at this AQI range, people with lung disease, older adults and children are at a greater risk from exposure to ozone, whereas persons with heart and lung disease, older adults and children are at greater risk from the presence of particles in the air.
  • 151 to 200 = “Unhealthy.” Everyone may begin to experience some adverse health effects, and members of the sensitive groups may experience more serious effects.
  • 201 to 300 = "Very Unhealthy.” This would trigger a health alert signifying that everyone may experience more serious health effects.
  • Greater than 300 = "Hazardous." This would trigger a health warnings of emergency conditions. The entire population is more likely to be affected.

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